What is the most important component of player development? What is the most common thing coaches tell their players they need to improve on? What is the last thing players think about when it comes to improving their game?
Why? It is the least sexy part. There is nothing cool about consistently killing it in the weight room. Other than bragging about your bench press numbers or how much you can deadlift. The weight room is the center of everything we do at KPI because it is the area that most players will skip. Speed, strength, and size are all things that players say they want but rarely have a plan in place to develop those things. Add that just because you are big and strong, you may still suck at baseball….
So we have been quietly revamping our entire strength and conditioning program. Why? We have been utilizing Hawkin Dynamic Force Plates to evaluate the effectiveness of our current programming and adjusting to this new objective measuring tool. Again, you ask why? Coaches need more accountability beyond athletes lifting more weight. This is especially important for a skill dependent sport like baseball.
So what did we see?
Athletes programming is changed month to month based on their jump profile. Jump profiles change due to training demand, life stress, playing games, etc. The goal is to improve the weakest area of their jump profile, which in turn, improves their movement efficiency. Since we have started using the force plates, 70% of athletes make these improvements and progress into another strength and conditioning focus. Since this is brand new for us, we don’t have context if this is good or bad, but it will be our benchmark moving forward.
Next, we looked at body weight. A majority of our clients need to gain weight. The average body weight of a brand new KPI client is between 110 – 140 lbs. This is well below the average at the college and professional level, which is 180-220 lbs. Our top 10 hardest throwing pitchers weigh on average 185 lbs and our top 10 hitters when looking at max exit velocity weigh on average 180 lbs. 70% of the athletes who have trained with us gained at least 1 lb of mass. During the winter the average weight gained was 4.6 lbs, with the highest being 16 lbs over a 3 month period. An athlete’s body weight is one of the strongest performance indicators in all of sports, so increasing your size is a great way to get a leg up on the competition.
The last metric we will look at is jump height. This metric has been heavily studied and attributed to general athleticism. Meaning the higher you jump the higher your chances are you are a better athlete. The baseball players in our facility that throw the hardest, hit the ball the hardest, and are the fastest, typically have the highest vertical jump height in our testing. Our top 10 hardest throwing pitchers and our top 10 hitters, just looking at exit velocity, average 18 – 20 inches. During the winter we saw an average of 1.1 inches gained during the 3 month period. With the highest being 5 inches.
With this being our first comprehensive review of our strength and conditioning program using Hawkins Dynamics Force Plates, we will stick with these surface level metrics. We are tirelessly working on ways to improve, hold ourselves accountable, and give every athlete the opportunity to reach their full potential. We are diving deeper into this data and plan on finding more and more specific ways to help athletes improve, stay safe, and dominate in competition.